Texas Two Step Chili

With the frigid temperatures and nearly two feet of snow, we made a lot of soups this week. One of our favorites and one of the easiest is chili.

At our local Schnucks, they have Cookwell & Company All Natural Texas Two Step Chili Mix. It smells heavenly in the jar. We combine it with a pound of ground beef to make the most amazing chili.

One jar chili starter
pound ground beef
cayenne to taste (optional)
lime juice (optional)
shredded cheese such as cheddar or Mexican blend (optional)
tortilla chips (optional)

Heat the jar of sauce in a sauce pot over medium heat. Brown the beef. Drain. Add to sauce pot of chili. Cover. Let cook at least an hour. The longer cooking time means the flavors meld more.

My opinion:
J likes to add some cayenne pepper to give it a bit more spice. He also adds some lime juice and shredded cheese, but even without the additions, the chili is delicious. If you wanted to bulk up the vegetables you could add an onion and peppers.

Beef Stew

For the first time since getting our crockpot several years ago, we decided to make a stew. Unfortunately, our two-person crockpot was too small even for a halved version of this recipe! We got the recipe from Schnucks. I was skeptical, but am so glad we were willing to try it. Wonderful!

Note: this recipe serves at least 6 people.
1 Tbsp. butter
1 lb. chuck or bottom round, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 c. vegetable juice cocktail
1 (14 1/2 oz.) can beef broth
2 medium (1 c.) carrots, peeled, sliced 1-inch
2 medium (1 c.) potatoes, peeled, cubed
1 medium (1/2 c.) onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 tsp. dried thyme leaves
1/4 tsp. dried marjoram leaves
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 c. frozen peas
1/2 c. water
3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour (TIP: Add more flour if a thicker stew is desired)
2 Tbsp. red wine or beef broth

Melt butter in 10-inch skillet until sizzling; add meat. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until browned (5 to 7 min.). Place meat in slow cooker. Stir in all remaining ingredients except peas, water, flour and wine. Cover; cook on Low heat setting for 8 to 9 hrs., or High heat setting for 5 to 6 hrs. or until beef is tender. Uncover; remove bay leaf. Stir in peas. Stir together water, flour and wine in small bowl until smooth. Slowly stir flour mixture into beef mixture, stirring constantly. Cook on High heat setting, stirring occasionally, until thickened (8 to 10 min.).

My opinion:
We didn’t have enough room for the peas or the full amount of beef broth. I also think I might have added a bit too much wine, but overall it was delicious. The next time in order to get it all into the crock pot, I will have to third the recipe in order to get it to fit.

Flat Branch Chocolate Chip Cookie Sundae

This is quite possibly one of my most favorite desserts of all time. Recently when we weren’t able to get to Flat Branch, J and I tried to recreate it on our own. We were pretty successful!

Jumbo Toll House Cookie Dough (12 come in a package. Available in the refrigerator section of the grocery store.)
Tiger Stripe Ice Cream (only sold at Schnucks and the Mizzou campus in Columbia. Your favorite ice cream would work just as well if Tiger Stripe isn’t available.)

We use three of the cookies at a time and squish them together on a baking sheet. If you bake the cookie this way, you will need to bake it at 325 degrees (per the package directions) for about 18 minutes. If you pull the cookies apart, they will be crisper and will only need to bake for about 15 minutes. Obviously, we like our cookies a little chewier.
Once the cookie is baked, let it cool for about 3 minutes. Just long enough so it doesn’t come apart when you pull it off the baking sheet.
Then plate it and add as much ice cream as you like! The ice cream will melt quickly so be prepared. If you want to add some chocolate sauce and some whipped cream.

My Opinion:
The ambiance and appeal of Flat Branch is lacking in this recipe. And we don’t have a pizza oven to bake the cookie in or the special recipe, but in a pinch this is good enough. I only wish we had discovered this when we lived in Texas!